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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  January 20, 2013 12:00pm-1:00pm EST

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>> mike austin, welcome to "after words." we are here to talk about your book, "that not what they meant!: reclaiming the founding fathers from america's right wing." so how has america's right wing claims the founding fathers? >> guest: well, i think the founding fathers are part of the world and america and we all claim them for a lot of different political points. i think in the current historical moment, the right wing has done two things that i find a little bit disturbing. one is the founding fathers had
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created a collective single entity, a sort of hive mind founding father and they've attributed a whole lot of things that one or two people during the founding generation believed to the collective mind and used it to try to say this is what our founders believed. certain opinions are illegitimate, cannot be entertained and have used it that founding myth. it's her predict will for people to use whatever is rhetorically powerful, i think that collect the visitation of the minds of america's founding fathers are particularly dangerous because if they say so often in the book, they were not equipped to q&a and presenting them as such
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terms to dramatically oversimplified the politics of the founding generation and comes to be used as a battering ram to beat people over the head with a way for i think are historically incoherent and rhetorically unsound. >> host: who won america's right wing are we talking about? >> guest: i started with glenn beck. i was determined i was going to write this book about 15 minutes after i read into qu├ębec's translation of the federalist papers from the original argument and are super market wichita. i kind of went around and say to people, can you believe this? glenn beck has translated the federalist papers and almost everybody said was so without? is that they are in english. i don't need to be translated. people didn't understand why i
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was so upset about this. it really kind of ticked me off. since i was the first book i read, with glenn beck's translation of 33, 34 fabulous papers at the commentary. ultimately the recent biography of george washington to end this half reproduction, have commentary was sort of how i started the project was reading history books. i read a number of folks by mark levin, sean hannity, david art. i'm not sure if you're familiar with david hart, whichever symbolizes his most recent book. and the variety is a malay word. and then there were a number of works by politicians that i read. this is always dangerous because politicians usually don't write their own books, but i figure
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they ought to at least be willing to agree with what's in them. so i read several recent oxford newt gingrich on the judiciary. rick perry, governor of texas has a recent book called setup, a states rights manifesto. so that collectively, some politicians on the far right and conservative entertainment complex became the foundation. i probably read 30 or 40 bucks from not wide swath of opinion. >> host: would you expect any more from propagandists and political leaders? is this what we might expect from something as complicated over 200 years ago written about and talked about is people up for election and trying to sell books? is this an inevitable outgrowth of our culture who talks about these issues this way? >> guest: to a large extent,
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yes. if you look historically, it hasn't changed much over even the last two years. this kind of propagandists use of history, even while the district was being made, people were very propagandists. what jefferson before they were dead and what they meant. so yes, i do think that is part of the genre and it didn't part of the genre needs to be people like me writing correct is insane if this is where you're getting your history, it's wrong. if not wrong, at least much more complicated than inflate it to be. >> host: that make touchy about this point of being complicated. let's say they have copy editors who said that of the founders, they said many of the founders said something that most of the founders or was a common opinion at the time.
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with that simple change of phrasing be enough to satisfy you? or is there a deeper concern? >> guest: that would totally come in dominate the utility of what i call the founders send monster. >> guest: when i first decided to do this is just going to write a blog and so the founders timeclock, actually my first attempt to use photoshop took a picture of george washington, john adams and start them altogether and that was the founders signed monster, the great collective founding fathers opinion. the rhetorical effect to finance depends on the unanimity. if you say some founders believe x, some believe why and hear barack obama is talking about why you not ask.
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rush's statement dominus entering a nonhistorical conversation when he said the founding fathers believe x. barack obama believes why becomes a state. so at a very fundamental level, the discourse imus on me to can't draw that distinction between the founders believed in those founders believed for some founders believed because that historically incoherent unanimity is fundamental to the way. >> host: is there any hope of propagandists to have a meaningful, construct a conversation about the founding fathers? >> guest: i think that's at odds with what most propagandists are trying to do. >> host: let me ask about the founding fathers apart from an author says that about them. was this a special group of people? maybe they've been treated on by
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the people you talk about in your book. this is a group of special people now and 2012? >> guest: i think these remarkable people who care deeply about their country and deeply about ideas. they were all so a flawed, very often hypocritical, very often controversial group of people, but in their own ways care deeply about the countries they were creating them what they were doing anything cut about of wisdom. i'm opting for than anybody else who ever lived have been an in historical periods in america and other places, a lot of people react to pay pay attention to. but i do think that the founding fathers individually were people who thought a lot about what it meant to live in a representative democracy at a
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time in the world where people had given a lot of stock to it. >> host: we sometimes take for granted but a remarkable moment outlays. there is no stable democracy. there were city states that didn't last. this is a democracy created with the constitution budget on across the country without people being murdered for what they voted on the constitution. so what is it about them that was so special? the one word he uses compromise. tell me about their ability to compromise. >> guest: you can't build a representative democracy across a large population and land area without compromising a lot. i think that in our present discourse, we like to pretend that the constitution and a lot of the nationbuilding enterprises were done by consensus. people getting together and
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agreeing, which is absolutely nowhere near the truth. you have people who wanted to accomplish something remarkable. the creation of the constitution is something absolutely remarkable for its time. the creation of a representative democracy across 13 large land areas that have different economies, different modes of production, different religious values, different histories, different outlooks on things. when they came together, the 55 who gathered in philadelphia had most of them, not all of them. most of them had an imperative that they were going to create something like a representative democracy out of all these different element. they had to give up almost everything but that. they came with a lot of different ideas about what they
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were going to do and nobody came away with what they wanted. except a very remarkable thing. >> host: these are very polarized times. congress and the 1790s is as polarized. if we think the media polarized our intent today, we have been anything. so how were they able to compromise plan went similarly polarized times it's hard for us to compromise them? >> guest: they didn't like it better than we liked it. somebody said in the ever been able to track this boat. maybe you know who sent it. politics is compromise, everything else is theater. we have a lot of theater right now, but i think the compromises are going to happen, too. >> host: what do we do to create the environment that promotes compromise?
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is it just something that happens in the nation is created, not when the nation's continued? >> guest: there's been a lot of times in our history. the constitution is an engine of compromise. he proposed the store is compromise. one of the ways it does this is by making it easy to shut the whole thing down. it takes little to bring government to a grinding halt. a couple people and congress can do it from a president can do it who appeared a few people on the supreme court can do it. it's much easier to keep things from happening and make things happen. what drives compromise is the need to do something, they need to move forward and i think roh is going to have a lot of political theater. i come at this as an english major with a background in theater. so i love the theatrical elements of our politics.
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i think it's fascinating. it's dramatic, comic, tragic. it's a wonderful bit of literature. in the end, the founding generation had a country to create and they were going to give up almost everything but that. we've got problems to solve and i note in the book and believe right now the national debt is probably her generation's problem to solve and it's a big problem and one where there's a whole lot of different values on the line, different interest on the line. i believe we will compromise is we have to because the alternative is just grinding to a halt. but there's always every compromise in the constitutional convention was certainly intended by its fair share of very overt genetic theater and it's no different today. >> host: we've talked about
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successes, historically unprecedented in the founders did, that there were also many things about the way they created the constitution that don't look so good from where we sit today. 55 white men, aristocratic man, very narrow background. given these thoughts about the constitution was created, just listen still translate to today? >> guest: i think they do. we have to be sensitive about that and realize this is a great leap forward. it was not a great leap to where we are now. it was a great leap forward from where most of the world was then and allowing a much larger percentage of the population to be involved in the political process that have been an optimist and engrossed in a row to that point. from our date, it might not even look like much of a leap. from our good commit a whole lot of people are excluded and much of the last 230 years has been
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working out the idealism of the american revolution in a way that rings the participation in political process far past where the founders imagined it. postcode given how different things are, how do we go about as writers, political figures, judges, law professors, how do we translate the principles of the 18th century in the world of the 21st century? they talk about free speech. they attacked the separation of powers, we have the administrative state. we talk about this is an ongoing process, but given how different the world is, how do we translate the wonderful historically impressive event and say the 18th century to the different world of the 21st century? >> guest: it's not easy. one of the things i object to with so much of the propaganda that i was responding to was
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that it made you sound very easy. clearly we need to do this. we need to go back to what the founders intended, which is problematic on a whole lot of different levels. i think we'll make a lot of mistakes if we try to go back to the constitution and the demise of the people who wrote it because i don't believe they set down intending to create a checklist of things we need to do. i think they created a political process that is still a very dynamic process and when i've lectured about the book, i started a massive front but if anybody asked what the founding fathers think, i tell them unless the question is should the third team colonies be governed by the british, then the only answer going to give you is used to process he gave you an figure it out for
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yourself. >> host: lets get more specific about what is in which you are frustrated with how these propagandists and political figures talk about issues. so let's first talk about religion. what was the vision of religion and the american cut to two shall order that was discussed at the time of the founding and how has it been simplified and used by the right wing? >> guest: it depends who you ask. they were founding fathers who are very religious. congress who believe this is going to be a christian nation and we needed the inspiration of god in the bible and our politics. i think patrick henry is a good example of a very religious founding father and that was one of the positions of the founding era. they were founding fathers who were not christian. they were ds or unitarians. there were some who were ds or
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unitarians who believed religion was sort of a good way to control. they didn't particularly care much about it was a nice thing. perhaps george washington and john adams fell into that category. expressing a religious doubt in their own writing, but did not try to slow it down in the public sphere. and then there's jefferson and not men who had three very lengthy debate in virginia about religious freedom after virginia and who really saw jefferson was a deist or at least unitarians, not of been considered a christian. madison i have no idea. i know she thought about religious liberty. i have no idea what you thought personally. but both of them believe that it's for religion and to the
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society if religion were considered something prior to the social contract and therefore not covered by the social contract. you entered into the leafs if you understood him or her to be in the state me to help or hinder. and i think that that view is more like without the constitution ended up and i think the supreme court has been moving us towards that view, but by no means in a straight line. >> host: this is a good example of framing collective intentions. so you outlined with several of the different founders. many seemed completely in disagreement of how they are said. sadly find the common ground when it comes to religion? collective bodies always have conflict in intentions. different people for different reasons but for immigration reform, but there's still a thought that comes out and gets the majority.
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so there's a very complicated picture and an interesting one of religion in founding fathers. how do we find out what the common ground is the lead them to agree on the first amendment treating religion? >> guest: i think that you look at the debate surrounding it. you'd look at the virginia debates, you look at what people said. but those don't really govern interpretation. the massachusetts constitution. the constitution is its own thing. it says very little. what it does say in the first amendment, as you well know, enormous toddies of literature and the free exercise clause and the establishment clause. i think there is good reason to read that part of the
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constitution, that part of the first amendment in light of the jeffersonian, madisonian position that religion is the sound. madison says exempt from the cognizance of the state. they're sort of a non-cognizance of religion, which is completely consistent with the free market principle. religion circulates in the free market of ideas. government doesn't interfere, doesn't do anything to establish it. i think we've pretty much draw those lines, reasonably successful. so there are a lot of people who believe otherwise. as they were in the founding generation, patrick henry vehemently oppose the jeffersonian madisonian position on religious liberty. they did prevail in virginia. i would argue that prevailed in the first amendment and that it has led to america being a
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religiously dynamic country. >> host: that sees this as an example of the founder psion phenomenon. how have the right wing authors and political figures in your book, how have they treated with the founding fathers had to say about religion? what do they think the founders said what does that mean for debates today? >> guest: david gardner datebook called original intent, which is about a 500 page collection of citations. >> host: tulsa proof texts are. >> guest: that comes to biblical interpretation largely. i contextualize paragraphs are sending his supposedly prove something. they're almost always given without context. so people say thomas jefferson was a deist, but here's this quotation in which he talks about jesus christ. thus we see this is true and
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what people is alive and the founders wrote an enormous amount. george washington papers at the university of virginia are now invited 67 a projected 95 games and he was the one of the writers. alexander hamilton, james madison, thomas jefferson spent hours every day writing letters. so we have rooms full of writings from the people handy feature a pic of vacation here and there come you can prove they were christians were ds or unitarians are baked potatoes and you can prove, because they said so much. it proves vacation is a quotation offered very little contact. and biblical discussions, texts are prove what got us thinking. in our discussions of the founders, was to collect device,
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once you create a high mind, you can apply to any sentence that anyone of them never spoke as if it were the opinion of the entire collective and that's what's happening. that's what a lot of people today do and spend an enormous amount of money doing it. they take from a david burton's original intent is the one i focus on the most year. you've got thousands of quotations by hundreds of people listed as founding fathers, about half of the were not supporters of the comp to shame. samuel adam said john hancock and pesce kenrick, george mason, people who are anti-featherless leaders who are then taken to be something like the collective mentality can use to interpret the constitution that most of them support. >> host: what does saddam hussein have to say say about
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religion? what have they been used to argue that the government and religion? >> guest: the founder of the rights of the founding fathers were christian. they believed that they didn't want a particular denomination to be the controlling religion that demands states, the cert event for a very evangelical biblical world to predominate in politics. they find plenty of evidence to prove that. on the left all of the founding fathers were ds and didn't believe in god were enlightened thinkers and if that religion had place in our society and that's just as inaccurate. those are competing collect the stations of the founding generation and are equally inaccurate. >> host: that's talked about taxes, grover norquist and james
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madison. when it comes to taxes and what will the government has in using the revenues it raises, what is the history from the 18 century and how is the right wing is that history today? >> guest: americans ha n liked texas. they did not like taxes without representation or taxation with representation. they revolted a few times. whiskey rebellion. there was quite a bit of antitoxin demint in america. that said, the constitution is virtually unlimited taxing power and hamilton wrote 32, 35 about the need to collect taxes and in their, a number of places say very straightforward, but it's
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politically difficult to vote to raise taxes and i was going to be politically difficult. you do not ever want to do anything to a structural difficulty by putting something to raise taxes because you can't foresee the future. it is dramatically irresponsible to do something like take a pledge saying he will never in your life if the legislature vote to increase taxes. but that would have -- that is dramatically directly opposed to the featherless papers. i think among the founding generation, jefferson was your greatest example is the low tax. does not want to raise taxes
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crowd and he was only very tentatively supportive of the whiskey tax, distilled spirit tax and jefferson was, i think where she sympathetic to protesters. jefferson said a lot of things that modern-day taxpayers can see sun. jefferson was an outlier. washington did not support the whiskey rebellion. he actually participated in the military effort. hamilton believed, as i was going to be a big debate any need to have that debate. you always need to have that debate, but you don't hobble yourself before and with additional structural difficulties because it could be very, very important in the future to every source of
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revenue. >> host: when we come back when i want to talk specific issues unable to talk about about the politics behind it and the reason that led you to write the book. we'll be back in a little bit. >> guest: okay, excellent. >> host: welcome back, people often. let's talk about what the founders had to say, different opinions on these issues than with the right-wing commentator are talking about has to say. we talked already about religion in taxes than foreign policy. what did the founders he talked about in your vocab to say about america's role in the world?
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>> guest: i think again this is a matter of great dispute. there was one major foreign policy issue in the washington administration that was the war between france and england and what they were going to do about it. even then you had two very distinctive positions. hamilton was roughly pro-british. jefferson was pro-french and this really is what led to the huge split between those two men. the national bank issue was controversial, but this is how the federalists and republicans aligned with whether they were going to favor britain or france out or could eventually produce all sorts of other things. i think the hamiltonian edition, which washington accepted as america ought to be mutual because it had no army, no navy. he didn't have money at the time. it had a strong interest in
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trade with england in france and just basic machiavelli and self-interest that america should remain mutual. neutrality favored the british because there is no american support for the british, but a lot of americans wanted to go out in the privateers for a friend because there was trade going through the west indies. so jefferson pushed hard and probably too hard. he had conversations with the french ambassador that he should never have had. he pushed hard to have america moderately pro-french to allow americans -- to allow the french to outfit showed them what to participate in some way to the war effort. jefferson did this largely because he thought we owed france for their help in our
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revolution and because the french were fighting for democracy in europe the british were fighting for aristocracy. but what really evolved our two positions, kind of a realistic addition of these are america's interests. this is what we need to do in the position of the jeffersonians, which is a need to fight for values in the world. as american foreign policy have developed, those positions have been predominate for times. we need to look old and hard at her own interests, which is what they do most of the time. but there's always the development of a fight to make the world safe for democracy. we've got to fight with the good guys. i think our situation is completely different. we have an army. we have nav, we have money and an economy. when a very different situation than the founders ever were or
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ever could've imagined, but we still have those two inclinations. are we about to foreign policy to protect her interests quite are we involved in foreign policy to project ideology into the world? >> guest: >> host: were not in the dispensable nation. 25 years after the creation of the constitution not too far from here come the paper and the white house that the country very much at risk. so the people that you write about in the book, the contemporary authors, how do they translate or try to train late with the frankenstein set to contemporary debates about foreign policy in iraq, afghanistan? >> guest: a lot of to quote washington's farewell address and say we should be involved. there tends to be a very
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nativist echoing through those folks and that discourse. >> host: what you mean by nativist? >> guest: let the world friday we just need to pull back and take care of ourselves. i don't sense among the contemporary conservative writers, i don't get a sense of foreign policy coherence do we do with domestic issues. some of them are pro-intervention, neoconservative, breaking. we need to explore our democracy. a lot of them are much more we need to pull back, get out of these wars and take care of ourselves and start spending money on the world. >> host: as a professor of constitutional law, one area, probably on states rights, what we might call federalism,
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relative power of the federal government, state governments come up a lot on sunday morning talk shows and supreme court decisions in the health care case. what did the founders have to say about the relative roles of the federal government? >> guest: everything we have to say about it. there were just as messed up and conflicted as we were. this was the major issue in the 1800 election, major issue of the 1828 election, andrew jackson versus junk with the items. this question if i read one nation or of the adventures he? this is a divided federalists into antifederalists and supporting the constitution. it's a divided federalists and republicans, with divided the waves and democrats are the next generation. we've always had some people who see the united states primarily in compact with each other and other people who see it as a
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union and the state administrative districts union. the idea that the founders had a coherent position about state rights, the dolphins have the same thing requires you to pretend we didn't have elections back then because that's what their actions for about. different parties wanted different things. i think that generally the southerners were more confederated. they savas morrisey compact states. the northerners were more a nation. hamilton was almost a monarchists. i mean, hamilton saw this very much as a union. i think that there was about the founders the founders a strong belief. when i read that texas is trying to secede from the union because
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they're not about some recent political event, that just strikes me as terrifically tragic in a comic sort of way because the founding generation -- or worry about if unions, but not supporters of the constitution. host robert terry, andrew napolitano, what do they have to say? what is there collectivize version of our founding fathers had to say about federalism? >> guest: federalism is a hardware to define because it shifted throughout the founding generation. it originally meant supporters of the article federation and pulled by the great fuss was about times by calling their nationalist work on the constitution and the federalist papers. so what we mean is a word that signifies some relationship between the district element in a national government, without relationship is not anywhere clear in the founding
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generation. i think that rick perry and mark levin and glenn beck and almost everybody in that general cadre believes the founding fathers believed that state were more amenable to democracy than the federal government was more likely to produce charity in the states, which is exactly the opposite of what madison believed, where he said it's the states that have the real pretend share and it's the national government that can counteract that. because of its size. because it's large enough to balance the various regional majorities that could otherwise become oppressors. postcode you should be waiting by your phone for a call from glen beck. certainly there's no issues there receives more attention to this group and federalism.
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but if you indicate, the word federalism or separation of powers at the corporate constitution. these words are not there. basic concepts in the air. several suspects the general context. i want to turn now to buy the founding fathers, by now, by the right wing? this is a puzzling topic for me. he mentioned about the warren harding gave a speech where he mentioned the phrase sounded fathers, but republicans don't use it as a backpack that americans the new deal are in the 19th east, john marshall harvey nominated supreme court in 1955 and had a study showing he's asked about originalist on, john robertson 2005 the fast 50 times more. our president and vice president of constitutional law don't talk
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about what the founding fathers thought, at least as much as this group does. so what have modern contemporary conservatives grabbed onto this basis for political -- by this, why now? >> guest: because of the power come this founding myth is it's going to be invoked for rhetorical legitimacy. i think there's a lot of people don't have a good understanding of the founding generation. i discovered this the hard way. ps my 14-year-old son if he could name to founding fathers and he told me at the benjamin franklin and chuck norris. [laughter] don't tell his history teacher. so we have a high level of misunderstanding, which makes it easy to manipulate. but everyone agrees they were really good people.
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pretty much the vast majority of americans want to be online with the founders and don't quite know what it means to be among the founders, so they are susceptible to someone coming out and telling them in easy-to-understand words at the founders meant, which is what the people saying this. why the reelection campaign by saying all these people would've one of the health care law. they wanted a financial reform bill. >> guest: that's a very good question and i don't know the. there's as much in the writings of the founders to support what contemporary liberals believe. both groups could draw equally from the founders. i think liberals have tended to downplay the importance of the founding generation, partially
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because of the connection to slavery, connection to weibel privilege and that is made it harder for liberals to some of the core of teacher needs to invoke these aristocratic bans as the kenneth burke would call god turns. and i think the contemporary liberal ideology is less desirous to repealing two ultimate authority been conservative.dream. >> host: part of this as a basis in the more religious nature a political argument and political constituencies? >> guest: i think most of the people who are adopting this worshipful attitude towards the founders are complaining that with their religious belief and it comes out that there are these ultimate authority, certified and the founders,
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church and is eight and it occupied very similar rhetorical positions in the right-wing discourse. i do want to say i try to go to some length in this book to talk about the different between a french conservative element in a mainstream conservative -- conservatism, which is a very respectable philosophy and when i agree with in many ways. so i don't want to paint all conservatives with this brush. i think it is a subset right now of the far right that calls itself a constitutionalist movement, but sees great rhetorical power in the constitution and quite frankly some of the founders thought exactly the way they do and some of them didn't. poster one person may be perky and conservatives, reference and adherence to the way things were done in the past. i want to come back to the different difference can
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advertise and mainstream conservatives. i want to talk more about the interplay between religious arguments and competition argument comes since you've written and blocked in the book. talk about religious and biblical type arguments. what similarities do you see beyond references to an ultimate authority between the direction of evangelical christianity and perhaps the sort of arguments you referencing a book. guster this takes me back to my training. i spent most of my career writing about milton bunyan defoe and richardson. ben and especially with a great one for making the religious argument in his way of doing it, and i think this is very common in our culture today is divided into his proof texts and
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combined in any way he felt like it, paid no attention to context with the weather and said he was the first and corinthian proverbs and put this all together and you can form a chain of argument and get it out wherever you to go. i think that's largely what the people and writing about have done with the much more voluminous writings of the founding fathers. just reduced it to so many proof texts combined this in a variety of ways. the bible does not have a single author. it has a number of authors, the single mind is a soon. all of the bible approved by god so whichever first you take from whichever source is the ultimate, homogenous intent on people's minds.
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and i think the exact same thing has happened with the writings of the founders. posted just by virtue of using the phrase, the event a long time ago, certain reverence and authoritative texts, when his tax is authoritative because of lawgivers in another written word that comes out of it. >> host: one where text is considered dramatically more content. many people today are really concerned with what a corinthian was or why leviticus was written or what was happening in deuteronomy because the text is what's important. it's very much the case in the writing that the founders. you'll see something that john adams wrote in a letter in 1812 right next something he wrote in a political pamphlet in 1778
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embassy besmirched together as if they formed a single paragraph and not even john adams. john adams in 1812 and something benjamin franklin said in 1750. put them together and form to biblical texts, a single argument. >> host: is very similar attitude toward elite and how modern elite hot distorted how this figure satellite time ago? >> guest: there's a lot of anger that people like you and me, professors, people who distort the plain and precious truths that the founders in order to make sense team like less than and whether it's talking about their ownership of slaves, anytime a liberal mentioned that, they're going to
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get a strong pushback. for the disagreements between them. we don't want her figures to be disagreeing with each other all the time. so there is a sense that academics -- academics just because somebody has spent his or her life reading the primary text doesn't give us any special in pay. the bible or the constitution. we don't need elites telling us what it means. so it's somewhat restorative. >> host: i believe andrew jackson for that. [laughter] this is what your job is a wonderful look at highlighting. there's many founding that we might be going through founding moments now. the quality is continually
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changing, so they can't look at one particular moment to understand our country works. so what they a liberal publisher are activist calls and says we read your book and agree with everything you say. were tired of the state department said the raping. the cultural critic and political critic, would that be a good thing? >> guest: no, i would be horrified because the last thing we need is liberals being as distorting and simplistic about the founding fathers as the conservatives currently are being. it's very possible and i think you could have been movement on the left for this justice that. and then you would just have dueling non-sense. i would be happy if liberals read this and were offended by some of the things i said. i would hope there's enough in
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there to offend liberals and not just conservatives because at the current historical moment, the far reaches scores is much wired pc to the founding history, but that's an accident of our history. there have been times in our heads to read when what passes for the left has been just as simplistic about the way a brief history. so i don't want to say here's a bunch of conservative founders signed. let me invent some liberal ones that we can watch them fight like fighting robots or something. i think what's amazing is how interesting these men are when you actually read about them and treat them as individuals. they are so much more interesting than the collectivized myths and rather
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than trying to create a checklist of approved opinions based on things the founders thought, if we look at how they struggle, how they compromise, but they brought to this nation, there's a lot of lessons we can learn by looking at that not through our ideological blinders. >> host: to matter how hard you try, we all see things through our own eyes. so there's an objective history the founding father. guess he'll at least one object if history is possible. i think there's so many wonderful books right now. i was in barnes & noble last night because i'm coming here from this and i passed through barnes & noble some of you here today. was just looking at the really great books being written now about the founding generation.
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i mean, some people are doing phenomenally good for them there in the bookstores and it's available and a lot of people are reading them. scylla people are discovering how fascinating this. can be reread it with historical debt. i think on the far right is the construct this bully pulpit and to use it to shut down political discourse. there's a lot of great information. the other thing that's more available are the primary sources. you just need a phone to access everything. the complete works of founders come you can download them onto your kindle, download them to
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your ipod. they are free comes to the information has never been more available. >> host: what's the difference to the treatment of the founding fathers with french conservatives and what you call mainstream conservatives. you've given the book an example of somebody who not everybody with income as a mainstream conservative, justice scalia. that's a difference with how justice scalia treats the founding fathers and went back? >> guest: justice scalia is often presented as an originalist. he's not an intentional list. he has said in his 1997 book, a matter of interpretation, in this book he says you can look for maybe a generalized intent, but you can't try to read the minds of the people who wrote the document and ultimately their intentions don't matter
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because they didn't ratify the document. they collectively author it. it's undemocratic to try to derive their intent, unless the intent is somehow an text advocating document. so i think justice leah is very conservative. he even said one of his speeches i've originalist. i'm not a nut. >> host: this is then put the founding fathers thought. judges, lawyers, law professors call original intention to what you're talking about original public understanding. what does everybody think quite >> guest: that's a legitimate strategy. and a big the only interpretive
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strategy, but it's legitimate to say the producers of words admit to the people who read the document? has a completely illegitimate strategy to say what did john adams writes in his journal in 1811? one of the things i've found is put up some quotations by john adams and thomas struck said he is to interpret the constitution of the nest before john adams and thomas jefferson were when the constitution was written. they weren't even in the hemisphere. it is both far away. o-oscar they couldn't text message on their talks. >> guest: so yes, you look at the intent is encoded in the document and i think that's what justice scalia as saying. you don't try to read the minds of the people over the years and look at what they said in completely different context to bring that to interpretive.
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one of my favorite examples in the book is about the supremacy clause in the institution. the supremacy clause is the statement that the constitution of the united states trumps state laws. and this was originally mattison didn't want it. madison wanted a federal veto a state laws. four times, madison proposed a federal veto that would allow congress to veto any state law they didn't want and that was a nonstarter for most of the delegates. so luther martin from maryland, who became ultimately an anti-federalist propose the supremacy clause more or less as it stands now except that he kept the state constitution and he did this is a trick. he was hoping to get everyone to write into the constitution that federal law trumps a thought,
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but not state constitution so he could later argue the state constitution's tom federal law. they claim that offended within their federal law trumps the constitutions. but that raises the question of original intent of whose content is original. isn't mattison who wanted a much stronger federal veto? is a luther martin whose intent was to deceive the other delegates? is that the other delicate wanted not a sin to shut up and get back to where? exactly whose intent do you put in because nobody came to the constitutional convention thinking i want a supremacy clause. that is nobody's intent. that emerged out of the process. if you look at what people intended, everyone intended something else, but this is what came out. >> host: of course there were similar problems with the intention of north carolina and
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the thinking compared to what someone in new york was thinking, but certainly these are different enterprises. >> guest: that is the way of the constitution comes from a field because that's how we read literature. it is of great interest for john milton tended when he wrote paradise lost. it is a virtually no interest to me what john adams had been to me when he didn't write the constitution because when we read a book, we are sort of hardwired to think what did the author mean? that's not a good way to look at a document created by 55 people in an attempt compromise striven negotiating session and that doesn't have a lot of intent. nobody translated their intent into words the way we hope they'll do. >> host: thank you for your wonderful conversation. you've left us with some things
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to talk about. good luck with your book. >> guest: thank you very much. thank you for doing the interview. >> host: pleasure. speenine palace "after words," but tvs program in which authors are interviewed by journalists, public policymakers, legislators and others familiar with material. "after words" airs every weekend. >> john howell jackson junior about his book, racial


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